On Saturday, Atka was scheduled for his Canine Good Citizen test. I didn’t have high hopes for Atka. He has the ability to complete all the test items, but his puppy gets the best of him sometimes. I figured it would be a good learning experience and would help calm my nerves about the test. If you are not familiar, here are the 10 test items for CGC from the AKC website:
- Accepting a friendly stranger
- Sit politely for petting
- Appearance and grooming
- Walking on a loose lead
- Walking through a crowd
- Sit, down, and stay on command
- Coming when called
- Reaction to another dog
- Reaction to distraction
- Supervised separation
I knew we were going to have trouble with the items that include other dogs. We’re still working on perfecting his self-control so he doesn’t think he can greet every dog. I decided to get there about a half hour early to get us both in training mode.
When we arrived at the testing facility, I found out that another dog from our CGC class would be testing with us that day. It was nice not to be the only one testing! We both got busy working with our dogs and preparing for the test. After 10 minutes, the evaluators walked in. Without any introductions or explanations, we began the test 20 minutes early.
Overall, I was pretty pleased with Atka’s performance. He showed a little too much excitement around other dogs and people, but nothing that the evaluators felt he should be failed for. Phew.
It was interesting to see what the evaluators allowed and did not allow during testing. The other dog being tested lunged at another dog, jumped on the evaluator, and played tug with his leash during test items. I was under the impression that all of these actions would lead to failure.
In our CGC training class, we were told that we could encourage and talk to our dogs as much as we wanted. The fluffies respond very well to verbal praise and petting so I was sure to praise throughout the test. At one point, the evaluator told me I needed to stop talking to my dog. Not a big deal, I figured, we have hand signals.
During the down-stay, I told Atka to ‘stay’ and then walked out to the end of the long lead. As I walked away, I put my hand beside my leg and made the stay signal. Atka’s puppy brain needs a reminder every now and then! While this was encouraged in training, the evaluator wasn’t a fan. I got in trouble for that as well.
Finally, all the test items were complete. The evaluator looked up from her papers and said, “Well, you both passed”. Very monotone, no excitement, not even a congratulations. Instead, she told us all the things we do wrong in training.
She told me that there needs to be repercussions for not following a command or breaking a command early. She demonstrated how to do this on her dog who was wearing a choke collar.
Then she told me that I need to stop pampering my dog and falling back on treats in training. Atka should just do everything because I said so. Does she realize that’s not an effective method of ‘training’ for most dogs? Does she know pyrs?
After a few more insults to my training styles and dog parenting, she handed us our ribbons. At this point, I wasn’t even happy that we passed. I just wanted to get out of there before I said something I would regret.
This experience reminded me how many outdated methods are still promoted. AKC even updated the CGC guidelines to allow slip collars, including chain collars. If gentle leaders aren’t allowed, why is a chain collar?
I do plan to continue working on Mauja’s anxiety so she can pass her CGC test, but we will not test with the same evaluator. If the test was conducted outside, she would pass, but going into a building will stress her out. In the mean time, I’m going to continue working with Atka toward his therapy dog certification. I’ll do some research on that evaluator before enduring a miserable test again.
Have you taken the CGC test with your dog? What was your experience like?